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Monte Kiffin: 3-4 or 4-3 doesn’t matter

Monte Kiffin AP

Amid all the talk about new Dallas defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin changing the Cowboys from a 3-4 to a 4-3 front, Kiffin himself says that talk is largely overblown.

“They drafted for a 3-4 defense here, but believe it or not, you actually do have some people that can play a 4-3,” Kiffin told reporters Thursday. “A 3-4 or 4-3 doesn’t matter. Last time I checked you’ve got 11 guys on the field. Not eight, not nine, not 10 — we have 12, that’s not good, either, you get a penalty. But you’ve got 11 guys out there and it doesn’t matter 3-4 or 4-3.”

Between new offensive coordinator Bill Callahan saying it doesn’t matter who calls the plays and now Kiffin saying it doesn’t matter what kind of defense they run, one almost wonders why the Cowboys even bothered to hire a coaching staff. But Kiffin said that what really matters is that his players play hard, play fast and play together as a team.

Kiffin also said he’s been surprised that every time he sees himself mentioned in the media, he sees his age, 72, mentioned alongside his name.

“I thought it was a jersey number,” Kiffin said. “But don’t worry about me. Some people are 72 going on 80. I’m 72 going on 52. I feel great.”

Cowboys fans will feel great if Kiffin’s 4-3 gets better results than Rob Ryan’s 3-4.

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Obama Administration: Team should change name before returning to D.C.

Washington Redskins v Oakland Raiders Getty Images

If Dan Snyder wants to move his team back from Maryland and into the District of Columbia, the Obama Administration says it should change its name first.

The Washington Post reports that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser that the National Park Service won’t accommodate construction of a new stadium on the site of the team’s old venue, RFK Stadium, unless the team changes its name.

Mayor Bowser wants to bring the team back to D.C., and Snyder has indicated that he’d like such a move as well. But Jewell, who as Secretary of the Interior oversees the federal land, has said that calling a team the “Redskins” is no more appropriate than calling a team the “Blackskins,” “Brownskins” or “Whiteskins,” and as a result the federal government couldn’t support such a move.

This is not the first time the federal government has pressured the team. In 1961, when Washington was the NFL’s last all-white team, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy told owner George Preston Marshall that the federal government would revoke his lease on D.C. Stadium unless he signed a black player. Marshall acquiesced and was allowed to keep his team at the site that now bears Kennedy’s name.

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Jim Harbaugh is still Jim Harbaugh

Harbaugh Getty Images

As former 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh was on the verge of leaving the team, he was asked if he’d miss the NFL.

“Is the NFL going anywhere?” Harbaugh said. It was more humorous than obtuse. But Harbaugh is often more obtuse than humorous.

He was more obtuse than humorous earlier today, when Harbaugh appeared on ESPN Radio with Colin Cowherd. (The Big Lead has the audio and video.)

Part of the periodic awkwardness comes from Harbaugh’s desire to win at everything — including press conferences and interviews. At times, he seems to put his intended answers on an invisible teleprompter, reading them before uttering the words. At times during his interview with Cowherd, it sounded like Harbaugh was doing the same thing, giving the kind of short, eventually giving the kind of short, guarded responses that come from a witness who isn’t quite sure where the lawyer is going with his line of questioning.

Part of it comes from Harbaugh’s comfort level. In his recent Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel profile on HBO, Harbaugh had a comfort level with Andrea Kremer; enough of a comfort level that he confessed to a childhood that consisted of the consumption of mass quantities of milk in the hopes of growing to a certain height.

To her credit, Kremer knows how to press the right buttons to make Harbaugh comfortable. In this specific interview, Cowherd didn’t — possibly because Cowherd started the process with a question Harbaugh likely regarded as an attempted haymaker, “When are you at your least intense? ‘Cause you are a pretty intense guy. . . . Is there ever a moment in the day you’re like, ‘Oh, man, I’m cupcake. I’m soft. I’m easygoing. When’s the part of the day when you’re a pushover?”

And with that the turtle jammed his head back into the shell, retreating to his every-question-is-a-trick-question demeanor and never opening up. For example, after a long setup from Cowherd touting Harbaugh for seeming to be “all in” with the community at Michigan, Harbaugh paused (presumably while formulating the answer and running it through the invisible teleprompter) and said, “Uh, yeah. I would agree. Can’t disagree with that.”

To his credit, Cowherd eventually called Harbaugh on it, after Harbaugh openly bristled when Cowherd prefaced a question by saying “you’re not a rear-view mirror guy.”

“You’re not giving me a ton to work with, Coach,” Cowherd said, “So I just want to find something out about Jim Harbaugh the human being. . . . I’m a 4.3 wide receiver. Why should I play at Michigan?”

“You are?” Harbaugh said, equal parts humorous and obtuse.

Harbaugh eventually asked what he could do to make the interview better, but Cowherd opted to pull the plug, admitting that it was a “clunker.”

Indeed it was. Which raises an obvious question: Why do interviews at all if you’re going to treat them like a tug of war from which one side and only one side can emerge victorious?

It’s a question that I’d definitely be asking myself if I were a 4.3 wide receiver considering Michigan as a college football program.

And, no, Jim. I’m not a 4.3 wide receiver, either.

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Darrius Caldwell and Dalvon Stuckey holding pre-supplemental draft workout Thursday

Tennessee Titans v Jacksonville Jaguars Getty Images

We’re a little more than a week away from the July 9 supplemental draft and two of the players who have made themselves eligible will be working out for NFL teams on Thursday.

West Georgia defensive end Darrius Caldwell and defensive tackle Dalvon Stuckey will hold their pro day workout at the school on Thursday. Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun reports that 20 teams have indicated they’ll be in attendance to scout the two players.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee reports that the 49ers will be one of those teams. He adds that Caldwell, who started his college career at Illinois, would be an outside linebacker in the 49ers’ scheme and that he has the length and athleticism that the team likes at the position.

Barrows also thinks that Clemson tackle Isaiah Battle could be of interest to the team after Anthony Davis stepped away from the team. Battle is the only FBS prospect who has declared for the draft, which will require teams to hand over 2016 picks for the same round as any player selected on July 9. Wide receiver Josh Gordon was the last player selected in the supplemental draft, going in the second round to the Browns in 2012.

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Construction worker suffers “severe head injury” at Falcons stadium


Football can be dangerous, but so can building football stadiums.

According to Tyler Estep of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a construction worker suffered a “severe head injury” after metal scaffolding fell on him at the construction site for the Falcons’ new stadium.

Police and fire officials responded to the scene, on the east side of the project near the intersection of Mangum and Mitchell streets.

Such accidents aren’t unheard of at the massive projects. Two construction workers died while building Levi’s Stadium for the 49ers.

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Panthers still adjusting to lack of defensive line pressure

Shaq Thompson

The Panthers were willing to let Greg Hardy walk, and they didn’t replace him this offseason with an impactful pass-rusher.

But they’re hoping they can cover for his loss in other ways, and with other positions other than defensive ends.

The Panthers fell from a league-high 60 sacks in 2013 to 40 last year, a gap largely but not completely because of Hardy’s being sent away with pay following his domestic violence arrest. But Panthers General Manager Dave Gettleman said there were other problems.

The drop-off was with DB sacks,” Gettleman said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “That’s where the big drop-off was.”

The Panthers’ secondary had just two sacks last year, after recording 11 the year before. While there’s some chicken-egg there based on losing Hardy’s presence up front, the line still managed 32.5 sacks after having 40 the year prior.

“I’m a big believer in you’ve got to be able to affect the quarterback rushing four. Then you start to get the back seven involved via blitz packages,” defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said. “That’s a big part, and we need to get back to getting more from our back seven.”

While safety Roman Harper wasn’t able to get to quarterbacks often last year, the Panthers have upgraded their secondary around him in hopes of being more stable back there, which could create opportunities. And first-round pick Shaq Thompson, a college safety they’ll use as linebacker is likely a big factor there.

But without Hardy, the Panthers are still counting on someone from the lot of Frank Alexander (who missed 14 games last year with drug suspensions), Kony Ealy, Mario Addison and Wes Horton to contribute. And if they don’t, it’s going to put even more pressure on a secondary that had to cover longer last year than they were accustomed to.

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DeSean Jackson accuses Eagles of “smear campaign”

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

The NFL is the nation’s ultimate reality show. Which perhaps makes NFL players inclined to try to have their own reality shows.

Washington receiver DeSean Jackson now does, and in the first episode of his new BET series Jackson unloaded on his former team, the Eagles.

Via John Keim of, Jackson accused the Eagles of launching a “smear campaign” against him in 2014, the year the team decided to move on from the player who arrived as a second-round pick in 2008.

“I was at the top of the top. And then I got released,” Jackson said early in the debut of DeSean Jackson Home Team. “It was a smear campaign. Things media said about me, I bet you could say that about the majority of people in the NFL. I got a second chance to play in the NFL and I’m proving I’m one of the best receivers in the game.”

He may have a point. On the very same day the Eagles cut Jackson, published a story that suggested gang connections and claimed, citing unnamed sources, that the Eagles also are concerned about his “bad attitude, an inconsistent work ethic, missed meetings and a lack of chemistry with head coach Chip Kelly.”

Last April, the NFLPA said it was looking into whether the Eagles smeared Jackson, but there never was a specific finding that the Eagles did. Jackson continued to be convinced that they did.

“When I was released by the Eagles, I feel they tried to paint a picture that definitely wasn’t true,” Jackson said during the show. “It was a slap in the face, coming off one of my best seasons in the NFL. . . . The Eagles tried to blow me up. That’s cold how they did it. . . . Have I went to jail? . . . I ain’t done none of that.”

The Eagles consistently have said that Jackson was released for football reasons only. Though his numbers were down from 2013 to 2014, Jackson still had 1,169 receiving yards — and his highest yard-per-catch average (20.9) since 2010 in his first season with Washington.


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Minor league baseball team offers Odell Beckham a contract

Victor Cruz, Odell Beckham Jr. AP

Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham said recently that he gets frustrated with teasing from his teammates about injuries and his sudden rise to fame, which drew a lot of attention and led Beckham to follow up by saying that he doesn’t have a problem with anyone on the team.

Should that change at some point this year, Beckham has an offer that would give him a whole new set of teammates. After video of Beckham throwing hard from the mound at a charity softball game went viral, he’s received a job offer from the Rockland Boulders of the Can-Am league.

“It’s apparent that Odell is a very gifted athlete regardless of his sport. We think that getting experience pitching to professional hitters will give him the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Deion Sanders and Bo Jackson”, said Boulders General Manager Shawn Reilly, via “As we are the New York area’s only defending professional championship team, he will have the opportunity to learn in a first-class environment while still in close proximity to MetLife Stadium.”

The Boulders offer is for Beckham to join them for spring training next May, so Giants fans don’t have to worry about Beckham trading the gridiron for the diamond this summer. They probably don’t have to worry about it in 2016 either, unless Beckham’s secret desire all along has been to parley an NFL career into a chance to play for a minor league baseball team unaffiliated with any big league club.

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Six years and counting with NBC


In early 2009, NBC first approached PFT about a possible partnership. I didn’t want to do it.

So I played the Costanza card, insisting on full editorial control and final say over anything and everything posted, without compromise or exception. And then Rick Cordella (who has since risen to the top of the digital ladder at NBC Sports Group despite his role in bringing PFT under the umbrella) didn’t blink.

So then I had to come up with another excuse for not doing it.

I opted for delay until late February, when the PFT servers imploded on the first day of free agency and Cordella eventually gave us temporary space with until we got our act (or something else ending in “t”) together. After that, it became inevitable that we’d do a deal.

A deal we did, with the switch being flipped on July 1, 2009. We’ve renewed our vows twice since then, and NBC is stuck with us for at least three more years. Hopefully, longer than that.

What started as a digital-only deal eventually became a TV deal and, more recently, a radio deal. Through it all, NBC has provided excellent cooperation and support, with so few hiccups that I can’t even remember a single one. (Except for the time I used an off-color term in a headline, less than a month into the relationship.)

On one of our past anniversaries with NBC, I tried to list every single person who has had a role in the partnership. Six years into it, there are way too many people to name.

Cordella and Kevin Monaghan got the ball rolling, Dick Ebersol quickly signed off on it. His successor, Mark Lazarus, has been every bit as enthusiastic and positive about the relationship as Dick was. On the TV side, Sam Flood continues to authorize the purchase of sufficient makeup to remove just enough of my ugly to allow for a presentation that doesn’t unduly frighten small children or the elderly, and Matt Casey protects me against saying stupid things. (Or at least he tries to.)

On the radio side, Rob Simmelkjaer of NBC and Jack Silver of Westwood One have provided the same kind of platform NBC originally gave PFT six years ago today: We focus on the content, they focus on everything else, and it’s a win for everybody.

Hopefully, it’s been a win for you. I ultimately agreed to do the deal because I realized how it could improve the experience for the football fans who visit the site. Making this an attractive place for you to frequent as frequently as possible has always been my primary goal.

There was a time when I assumed PFT would end whenever I either dropped dead or decided I’ve had enough. While neither occasion is looming (at least, not the one that I can control), with NBC’s help this has now become something that could survive and thrive long after I’m no longer hunting and pecking for the right letters to make the right words to convey the information you’re looking for to supplement your interest in pro football.

So take a moment in the comments to thank NBC. Or, depending on your opinions of PFT, to blame NBC.  Either way, PFT wouldn’t be where it is today without NBC bringing PFT on board six years ago today.

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PFT Planet poll results aren’t promising for Russell Wilson

Russell Wilson AP

After Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson turned the question of what he deserves around on ESPN’s Marty Smith, asking Smith how much he would pay Wilson, we decided to put the question to you.

In the 20 hours or so since the poll question was posted, nearly 17,000 have responded. More than 35 percent peg Wilson’s value between $15 million and $20 million per year.

But here’s the kicker. Coming in second in the five-option range of annual salaries was “$15 million or less,” with 23 percent picking that option. That’s a whopping 58 percent who believe Wilson deserves less than $20 million per year.

And as to the magic number of $25 million per year, only 6.6 percent agree that he’s worth that much or more.

Voting is still open, in large part because I don’t know how to close the voting on these polls.

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Former NFL player Richard Goodman sues NFLPA

Goodman Getty Images

The NFL Players Association doesn’t simply represent players in their employment with the NFL. The union also regulates those who represent players in their individual contract negotiations. One former player contends that the NFLPA failed to properly regulate those who represent players in their individual contract negotiations.

Receiver Richard Goodman, who bounced on and off the San Diego roster from 2010 through September 2013, accuses the NFLPA of negligence, gross negligence, and breach of fiduciary duty in connection with the regulation of agent Richard Burnoski. Specifically, Goodman claims that the NFLPA failed to suspend Burnoski or to revoke his certification for failing to pay agent dues and/or to maintain liability insurance.

The complaint, a copy of which PFT has obtained, contends that Burnoski borrowed $25,000 in Goodman’s name in January 2010, forging Goodman’s signature and then failing to pay the money back. Goodman was sued, and he claims Burnoski assured Goodman that the matter had been resolved. Goodman also contends that, in reality, Burnoski had done nothing.

The end result was a default judgment against Goodman in excess of $47,000, collected via garnishment of his wages. Efforts to vacate the judgment resulted in more than $13,000 in fees and additional expenses.

Goodman tried to obtain compensation for his losses via Burnoski’s liability insurance policy, but Goodman learned in December 2014 that Burnoski didn’t pay his union dues in 2010 or renew his liability insurance.

The sequence of events likely will be crucial in this case, since Goodman claims that he hired Burnoski in reliance on the online database that identifies which agents are certified by the NFLPA to represent players in their negotiations with specific teams. It’s possible Burnoski was in good standing at the time Goodman checked the online database (assuming the online database was actually even checked), and that Burnoski thereafter fell out of compliance.

A separate issue in the litigation will be whether and to what extent the NFLPA has an affirmative duty to notify players represented by an agent who fails to pay his dues and/or neglects to maintain his liability insurance policy — and whether the NFLPA actually did provide that notice to Goodman. Goodman claims he received no such information, and that he would have switched agents if he’d known that Burnoski’s insurance coverage had lapsed.

After January 25, 2010, it may not have mattered. The allegedly forged loan documents were signed that day, only a few weeks after the completion of Goodman’s college career at Florida State. The loan documents, which were attached to the complaint, show that Burnoski co-signed the loan with Goodman.

Given the timing of the loan, a key question will be whether Goodman’s name was actually forged. It’s possible that the loan was secured so that Goodman would have some cash between the end of his college career and the 2010 draft, and that Goodman did indeed sign the documents.

A separate question will be whether the liability insurance that NFLPA-certified agents must carry would even cover the behavior in which Burnoski allegedly engaged. Goodman accuses Burnoski of engaging not in garden-variety malpractice but intentional and deliberate fraud.

Of course, Burnoski later assured Goodman that the lawsuit had been taken care of, a separate blunder that prevented Goodman from having a chance to properly defend himself against the claim that he owed money for the loan.

Ultimately, the case against the NFLPA initially will hinge on whether Goodman can show that he didn’t sign for the loan, especially since the documents were signed at a time in Goodman’s football career during which it would have been logical for the player to be seeking enough cash to carry him from the end of his college football career to the arrival of his first NFL paycheck.

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Giants says they’ve “implemented a few programs” to update medical practices

True Blue Celebrity Softball Game Getty Images

When asked to contrast Tom Coughlin with Chip Kelly and Pete Carroll, Eagles defensive back Walter Thurmond said that all three coaches share the drive to win championships but that Coughlin takes a different path when it comes to some of the new medical practices that have caught on in Philadelphia and Seattle.

“He doesn’t believe in the sport-science aspect like Coach Carroll or Coach Kelly and the newfound technology for the players,” Thurmond said. “His style takes a hit, because he doesn’t believe in this aspect. He believes in winning, but he doesn’t believe in the modern medicine to progress the players to that next level.”

The idea that Coughlin is slow to adapt to new techniques isn’t one that feels like it comes out of left field. He’s the oldest coach in the league (although Carroll is No. 2 on that list) and has been in the same job with same head trainer and conditioning coach since joining the team in 2004. Beyond that, he’s also the coach who said that injuries are “a mental thing” when he joined the Giants so it’s easy to see where Thurmond would develop those feelings. Giants spokesman Pat Hanlon said the team has adopted new techniques of late, however.

“You would have to ask Walter what he is referring to specifically when it comes to comparing and contrasting,” Hanlon said, via “But the fact is, over the past 2-3 years, we have adopted and implemented a few programs: the GPS system we employ to monitor workload, diet in terms of offerings and preparation in the dining hall, and sleep studies. Those are a few of the things we have done as we continue to evolve.”

Injuries are a reality of life for every NFL team, but they’ve been an overwhelming one for the Giants over the last few years. Whether that’s because of training methods, Coughlin’s disdain for sports science, bad luck, something else or all of the above, it’s something that the team should be looking into in order to change the trend of lengthy injury reports during the 2015 season.

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Uncertainty exists about Tom Brady’s Country Club application

New England Patriots Pre-Season Practice Getty Images

As a four-time Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady’s a member of a pretty exclusive club.

But he may have run into a hearing at which turning over his cell phone might not help.

According to Mark Shanahan of the Boston Globe, Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen have applied for membership at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., and their application might be in doubt because they’re too famous.

I don’t know what they’ll do about Brady,” a “prominent Boston businessperson” told the paper regarding the membership issue. “The Country Club believes your name should appear in the newspaper just two times: When you’re born and when you die.”

Brady’s and Bundchen’s have appeared far more than that, and will continue to, with paparazzi in tow wherever they go. They already own a house there, so joining the club makes sense for them, but possibly not for the club.

“When it comes to issues related to members or membership, it’s our policy not to comment,” said David Chag, the general manager of The Country Club. “It’s a private club, and we don’t answer those kinds of questions.”

On that score, Brady could have an in, since he’s gotten good at not commenting for large amounts of money as well.

But that might not help him at a club which didn’t admit its first Jewish member until the 1970s, no women until 1989 and no blacks until 1994.

So as you get up and go to work and pay your bills, remember, even someone as talented and famous as Brady has problems too. The struggle is real.

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Josh Hill sees “just subtle changes” with Jimmy Graham gone

Josh Hill AP

There are going to be several players on the Saints Defense impacted by the departure of tight end Jimmy Graham in a trade this offseason and Josh Hill would seem to be at the top of the list.

Hill played 293 snaps at tight end for New Orleans last season and caught 14 passes for 176 yards, numbers that seem destined for a sharp rise with Graham plying his trade in Seattle and coach Sean Payton complimenting Hill’s ability to “run and stretch the defense” as a receiver. Hill’s doing a good job of keeping things on an even keel in spite of the changes, however.

Hill said he’s approaching this season the same way that he’s approached any other year and that he wants to “do whatever I can do” to help the team. Hill’s also downplaying any major changes at tight end in the post-Graham offense.

“They ask us to do a lot of things,” Hill said, via the New Orleans Advocate. “They always have. I haven’t seen anything stand out to being really different, just subtle changes here and there.”

The Saints went out to more than subtly change the makeup of their offense this offseason by dealing Graham and wide receiver Kenny Stills while acquiring center Max Unger and running back C.J. Spiller. That will likely mean a diminished role for tight ends even as Hill’s role grows in his third season in New Orleans.

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Bears rookie Kevin White can’t get his hands on a dinner tab

Kevin White AP

Being a first-round pick in the NFL draft means you’re rich.

And Bears wide receiver Kevin White is finding out that can save him some money.

The eighth overall pick said during an NFL Network interview that there were benefits he didn’t expect with his new status and $16.5 million contract.

“The most surprising thing that’s happen to me this far is going out to eat for free,” White said. “I didn’t expect this restaurant to give it to me for free. I gave them my card, and they said ‘it’s on us.’ So that was a good feeling.”

We’re also guessing the service he got at Chez Quis was better than Abe Froman received, though you have to wonder whether Jay Cutler’s still picking up tabs there.

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Wednesday morning one-liners

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Getty Images

Bills S Aaron Williams is giving back with a football camp in his hometown.

The Dolphins have announced their training camp schedule.

Former Patriot Joe Andruzzi, a cancer survivor himself, is raising money for cancer patients.

The new Jets coaching staff hopes that moving Jace Amaro will help to unlock his potential.

The Ravens don’t expect to sneak up on anyone this year.

Bengals DE Michael Johnson feels refreshed after a year away from Cincinnati.

Terrelle Pryor’s high school coach says he has all the tools to be a wide receiver for the Browns.

Here’s a look at the Steelers’ cornerback depth chart.

The Houston Chronicle has news for people who care about J.J. Watt’s love life (or lack thereof).

Are the Colts Super Bowl contenders?

The Jaguars are searching for a new mascot.

The Titans lobbied for legislation in Tennessee to ban the flying of drones over football games and other large gatherings.

Broncos S David Bruton is staying in shape with some offseason mountain biking.

Chiefs QB Alex Smith says WR Jeremy Maclin can do everything.

The battle continues over financing a new stadium for the Raiders in Oakland.

New Chargers OT Chris Hairston is reunited with offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris, and it feels so good.

In 1989, Stephen Jones urged his dad not to buy the Cowboys.

Is Damontre Moore ready for a breakout season for the Giants?

Here’s an Eagles history lesson inspired by the signing of John Moffitt.

Will WR DeSean Jackson’s reality show turn into a distraction in Washington?

Bears WR Kevin White is finding out that being the first-round pick in Chicago has its perks.

Golden Tate thinks it’s the Lions’ time.

Aaron Rodgers can’t swing a sword like his girlfriend.

The Vikings think rookie DE Danielle Hunter has a lot of raw talent.

Falcons QB Matt Ryan throws the NFL’s best deep ball.

The key to improving the Panthers’ pass rush may be improvement in the secondary.

The Saints like what they’re seeing from rookie LB Stephone Anthony.

Bucs QB Jameis Winston gave a surprise to a young fan.

Cardinals LB Markus Golden says he got a lot out of the rookie symposium.

Will Nick Foles be a disappointment in St. Louis?

Retired 49ers LB Chris Borland hopes he can become a spokesman for the importance of avoiding head injuries.

The Seahawks like what they’re seeing from Drew Nowak, a third-year player who spent last season on the practice squad.

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